I was out of town for most of last week. I came home Sunday at noon to find a beautiful "Welcome home" sign over the door. Better: the first person to greet me at the door was the reserved, back-of-the-pack teenager. And then the general mobbing began and led to roller-blading, bike rides, gardening, housework, cooking and all the other exhausting thrills of parenting. But typically kids with developing attachment struggle hard with absence, so I was fully expecting a retreat for at least a week from our newest. I expected avoidance, ignoring, and anger. I got a hug. Grace and Mercy.
Yesterday the same teen came home from school very grumpy. She snipped and snarled about her day to her dad at home, but wrote to me via messenger while I was at work. There was concern about a big exam at school next week. I provided reassurance. Then, when I got home, she gathered up all her internal strength and showed me two tests she got back from last week. Both had low scores. She was disappointed, embarrassed, a little defensive, but mostly nervous. I lit up in excitement: You got 9 right!? You read nine questions in English about cultural differences in food and geography and got the answers correct! That's amazing! Forget the other 16. You got NINE RIGHT! And on this one you got 20! Amazing! You've come so far in only six months!
Because, really, it's been six months. So very much has happened in that time and I'm incredibly proud of her.
Six months home and we finally did some basic things this week to mark it. The family portrait taken when August was 6 weeks old was finally updated to our Easter photo with all six of us in full personality. Now, every trip up or down the stairs involves passing a family portrait that includes all of us. Likewise, an additional frame was added to a display near the staircase landing so that all four kids are there together. And everyone got their most recent 8x10 photo updated in the dining room display--replacing an 18 month old photo of Maryna with a headshot taken last weekend by the lake.
Family. Inclusion. It's showing in the displays around the house, but more importantly it's in the actions. Things are really starting to feel connected.
The other three are amazing and beautiful and crazy and perfect and annoying and sweet. Another post for another day.